He included Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah, who reigned for 62 years, Emperor Hirohito of Japan (62 years), and Queen Victoria (64 years) in the list.
Johoreans should be proud that Major-General Sultan Sir Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar ruled Johor for 64 years from 1895 to 1959. Born on Sept 17, 1873, he ascended the throne on June 4, 1895, upon the demise of his father Sultan Abu Bakar, was proclaimed on Sept 7, and crowned on Nov 2 the same year.
Major-General Sultan Sir Ibrahim Sultan Abu Bakar was a brave and shrewd ruler who dedicated his life to the welfare of the people of Johor.
He was probably the longest-reigning sultan in the country’s history, having ruled for 64 years from 1895 to 1959.
Sultan Sir Ibrahim led a chequered life. He was his father's son in tenaciously preserving Johor's independence. He shrewdly continued maintaining the policy of friendly relations with the Crown of England, but carefully manipulated his friendship to thwart the expansionist ambitions of the British.
He carried out the trust of his father, who, before his death, enjoined his heir to dedicate himself to the welfare of Johor.
With youthful exuberance Sultan Ibrahim worked indefatigably among his people in urging them to work their land by improved methods. He encouraged settlers, popularised new crops and gave personal support to the development of his state.
He was quoted then as having proudly stressed the improvements on infrastructure that was built solely from the revenue of Johor without borrowing a cent.
Sultan Sir Ibrahim took active, personal interest and pride in the Johor Military Forces (JMF) that was formed by his father in 1886.
His leadership has been a decisive factor in bringing the JMF to the state of efficiency which it is today.
In 1905, he founded the Johor Volunteer Forces with the intention of using it as a platform to train Johor Malays for government service and secondment into the JMF.
Four of Johor's Menteris Besar were products of this arrangement and had undergone military training.
Among them were Abdullah Jaafar, the third chief minister, Abdul Hamid Yusof (the fifth), Ungku Abdul Aziz Abdul Majid (the sixth), and Onn Jaafar (the eighth).
He shrewdly continued maintaining the policy of friendly relations with the Crown of England, but carefully manipulated his
friendship to thwart the expansionist ambitions of the British.
In 1936, he equipped the JMF with the Braithwaite service kit, making the JMF better provided for than any British forces.
The JMF was also better equipped with Vickers machine guns mounted on mono-wheel vehicles suited to jungle use.
In the same year, he mulled on forming a Royal Johor Air Force under the supervision of the Royal Air Force to complement and make the JMF a more powerful entity in the defence of his state and nation. He believed that with intensive training, Malays make good aviators, gunners and technicians.
Sultan Sir Ibrahim conducted independent diplomacy by visiting foreign countries.
He was received, among others, by King George V of Britain, The Marquis Tokugawa of Japan in 1934, and secretly by Adolf Hitler in 1939.
Sultan Sir Ibrahim had a large personal fortune. He was noted for his open-handed generosity. He and his government donated 16 airplanes to the British during World War I. He donated $12 million to the British war effort during World War II. Britain used part of the money to install three 15-inch guns, the biggest outside Britain, at what is now known as the Johor Battery at Changi for the defence of Singapore.
Nearer home in 1927, he gave $25,000 each to Perak, Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu for flood relief efforts.
Sultan Sir Ibrahim exhibited great bravery when he led his JMF officers and men to quell the Sepoy mutiny in 1915 in Singapore, in which the Commanding Officer and two enlisted men were killed. The next day, the mutineers who had escaped to Johor surrendered their arms at the feet of the unarmed Sultan, and kissed his hands for forgiveness.
A courageous hunter, he shot tigers including man-eaters not from a hideout in a tree, but from the ground.
When the Japanese army reached Johor Baru on Jan 31, 1942, he faced its commander at Istana Bukit Serene. The Japanese gave him full respect and escorted him to Batu Pahat for security reasons.
After the British surrendered on Feb 14, 1942, he returned to Johor Baru and stayed at Istana Pasir Pelangi throughout the trying Japanese Occupation.
The construction of a network of roads, the railway and the causeway accelerated the development of Johor. Ironically, the railway derailed Sultan Sir Ibrahim's stance for preserving Johor's independence.
The Railway Convention of 1905 was the first internal development which the Sultan let slip into British hands., following veiled threats from the British who were unhappy with his insistence on constructing his own railway.
Sultan Sir Ibrahim maintained religious tolerance among his subjects. He granted land to the Arulmigu Raja Mariamman Hindu Temple, and the Gurdawara Sahib for Sikhs at Jalan Ungku Puan, and to the Masonic movement for the Lodge Royal of Johor at Jalan Thomson.
Sultan Sir Ibrahim declined election as the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli is the Secretary of the Council of the Royal Court